Monday, November 29, 2010

The Great Talker Keeps on Talking

If a hard-hitting, investigatory interview was her aim, we could say that Lisa DePaulo failed miserably in her dialogue with Joe Biden for Gentlemen’s Quarterly. And we would, if we thought for a moment that she was trying to achieve those ends. Rather, she avoids having to feign an unbiased approach by declaring, in the very first paragraph, that recent accolades for Joe Biden in the Atlantic are “long-overdue.”

We appreciate her honesty. In continuing past that first paragraph, the reader knows exactly what to expect with her piece: the equivalent of a rock-star being interviewed by a devoted groupie.

DePaulo sets the tone early by gushing praise. She recognizes Obama as “The Great Orator,” Biden as “The Great Talker,” and refers to them collectively as “two of the best communicators we've ever had running the country.” She continues, “The two major things you've done, you and the president, health care and the stimulus, are both successes.” Despite dismal polls and a flaccid job market that signifies the opposite, Joe doesn’t miss a beat and just confidently replies, “Yep.”

She then asks, “So how come you can't get that across?” Joe responds, “I think people will grant us that they were, on balance, the important things to do. But other than in the health care industry, they didn't create many jobs in their mind.”

Biden takes unwarranted liberty in assuming that Americans believe the healthcare bill created jobs in any industry, but there is a very legitimate reason that the legislation he references, stimulus and healthcare, didn’t create jobs in American minds. It’s because they didn’t create jobs in reality.

In the past few years, it has become increasingly apparent that Joe Biden finds difficulty keeping his rhetoric within the confines of reality. And this interview doesn’t alter that pattern, as he goes on to suggest that people will wake up and embrace the healthcare legislation. “That's why you're gonna see health care turn around—they're starting to find out that what they're told is simply not true. Their premiums haven't gone up. They're not in a position where their companies are dropping health care.”

I’m sure the battered Democratic Party that backed the healthcare bill is glad to hear that, Joe. It’s just too bad that nothing could be further from the truth. First, consider that 60 Democrats lost their seats in the House to their more conservative counterparts earlier this month, with many of the victors running on the platform of repealing this healthcare bill. So it’s not at all accurate to say that it looks like the American people are any closer to accepting it.

Furthermore, it is obvious that hundreds of thousands of Americans are facing significant premium increases or the loss of their company-sponsored coverage. In fact, the administration has selectively distributed waivers for privileged companies and unions, admittedly to keep them from experiencing the premium increases and dropped coverage that are a direct result of this healthcare bill. So when it comes to healthcare, Joe's opinion doesn't come close to reflecting what we Americans see.

Joe Biden's obviously living in his own alternate reality when it comes to healthcare and fiscal issues, but it even seems as if his moral compass seems is askew from what we Americans see in him. For example, at various points in the interview he quotes proverbs, and one in particular stands out. He relates to DePaulo that he believes that "The cardinal sin one can commit is to abuse power.” The average American will undoubtedly chuckle at this. Any member of Barack Obama's administration imparting maxims to educate us about the moral crime of abusing power is the very personification of the term "hypocrisy."

Ultimately, there is very little of value in this interview. Outside of some tidbits about the Vice President’s personal life and his intense admiration of Barack Obama, the only political value that this ridiculous puff-piece offers is the evidence that Joe Biden is unable to feel the distance that lies between him and the American people, and that he is incapable of comprehending how contrary his beliefs are to reality.

And it seems like every time Joe Biden talks, that sinks in a little more for Americans, whether he’s scolding an audience for being dull, delivering financial wisdom like “We have to spend money to keep from going bankrupt,” or simply having a conversation with one of his fans at GQ. And since the Great Talker shows no sign of stifling his trademark talent, Republicans welcome an Obama/Biden ticket in 2012 as happily as they welcome Nancy Pelosi’s insistence to remain a figurehead of her Party.

William Sullivan

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